The NEPAD Spanish Fund for African Women’s Empowerment has honoured Mrs Graça Machel for her exemplary leadership in advancing African women.
Mrs Machel, widow of former South African President Nelson Mandela and one of Africa’s most influential women, received the ‘Women of Excellence Award’ on the side-lines of the 25th African Union Summit, currently underway at the Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa.
2015 is a hallmark year for the African Union as the continent celebrates women’s empowerment and development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.
The aim of the award is to recognise and award African women and women of African descent for their outstanding contribution to the struggle for freedom, development and peace in social, political and economic spheres.
Mrs Machel said she was humbled receiving this award in the presence of legendary women. She urged everyone present not to forget about the plight of women who are victimised, brutalised and do not have access to education. “We are privileged, and with privilege comes responsibility. I am accepting this award on behalf of all women aspiring for a better life”, she said.
Closing the award ceremony, NEPAD Agency Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki thanked all awardees for leading the women’s empowerment agenda. He commended that African women have taking charge of their own development.
Mrs Machel received the award among other high caliber women including Africa’s female Heads of States Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Dr Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi, in addition to the first-ever elected female Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
A social and political activist over many decades, Mrs Graça Machel is an international advocate for women and children’s rights. As a founding member of the African Women’s Foresight Network, she established Multiplying Faces Amplifying Voices, which is committed to the empowerment of African women across sectors such as finance, agriculture, media and science. New Faces New Voices is the first pillar of Multiplying Faces Amplifying Voices to be established and it builds on Mrs Machel’s already substantial legacy. She played an advocating role in the establishment of the NEPAD Spanish Fund in 2007. Her Graça Machel Trust (GMT) is one of the beneficiaries of the NEPAD Spanish Fund.
The award ceremony was sponsored by the African Union, Republic of South Africa, NEPAD Agency, African News Agency (ANA), Women's Investment Portfolio Holdings Limited (WIPHOLD) and the African Union/Diaspora African Forum (AU/DAF).